Lauding a groundbreaking public health success story

Joanne Bosanquet

I spent a delightful four days earlier this year with my fellow panel members judging a range of categories in the field of nursing practice at all levels and specialties for the RCNi Nurse Awards 2017. One category that especially impressed me was the Excellence in Cancer Research award.

This is a field that is unfamiliar to me, but one that I was looking forward to learning about. Public Health England employs a number of research nurses and their advanced skills and expertise are crucial to the successful outcome of research programmes.

Individuals and populations rely on their ability to communicate highly complex information, provide ongoing holistic support, and advocate. These skills are all part of a discipline called Appreciate Inquiry, which is a salutary approach and focuses on the assets that a person or population has rather than the deficits. It’s a much more intuitive way to practice.

These specialist nurses are special for good reason. They get things done, make a plan. They are confident and innovative. They push boundaries. They strive for the best opportunities and outcomes.

‘We need to talk frankly and openly about intimacy and sexual health. We need to address this elephant in the room’

I found judging this category particularly difficult. All the nurses were all fabulous in their own specific field. One nurse, Julie Hoole, nearly forced me out of my chair to jump up and down with joy.

Ms Hoole works with individuals with oral cancers that are often caused by the oncongenic HPV virus. These individuals are knocked for six and it can affect their sexuality. Individuals can lose sexual enjoyment and ultimately, their sexual function, which is an integral part of our lives.

She identified a gap in her knowledge and expertise and trained as a psychosexual therapist. Ms Hoole does this as well as being a research nurse. She has developed a tool that could be used in other areas of healthcare. We need to talk frankly and openly about intimacy and sexual health. We need to address this elephant in the room. It is fantastic to see such groundbreaking innovation.

Ms Hoole’s innovation is a public health success story. We need to table this in the undergraduate curriculum. 

Joanne Bosanquet @MrsBosanquet Deputy chief nurse, Public Health England